Ok, I know it sounds like a stupid question but I really mean it.

This is a continuation to my post on why I'm bad at playing guitar.

I picked up a guitar 10 year ago and self taught myself. Being only 18 back then, it was more about "I want to play the guitar" rather than "I want to create music". I cared less if I will play Beethoven or AC/DC, I just wanted to play the guitar as a goal.

I started learning Flamenco for I thought it had unique and impressive techniques. I learned the techniques but had no idea what I am actually playing, was totally dependent on tabs and had zero interest in the Spanish culture on which Flamenco is heavily based on.

I struggled a lot and made poor progress, and eventually decided to move to western music and an electric guitar for it will be easier to a self taught person like myself. I played Surf music for again, it seemed cool and non-mainstream, but after some years it became dull and boring. I tried learning some theory and licks from rock and blues, but didn't persist much for I couldn't relate myself to the music.

People tell me to play the music I like listening to. The problem is that I listen very little to music nowadays, and if I do, it can be anything from Celtic tunes to KISS.

That said, I don't want to put down the guitar. I think that playing music is very beneficial to oneself (develops agility, coordination, ear and according to scientists is good fro the brain in general), but I simply can't find anything fun I want to play, focus on learning or actually caring about.

  • 2
    I suspect that you just need a new hook, or a fresh kick of inspiration. Sometimes new gear will do it for you. I recommend that you get a guitar multi-effects pedal, or a decent (though inexpensive) guitar amplifier that is loaded with modeling amp tones and LOTS of guitar effects. One I can recommend is the Peavey Vypyr VIP 2. Once you plug into an amp like that, and begin to explore the bright tones, dark tones, mellow tones, chorus, delay, rotary speaker emulation, octaving, flanging, and phase shifting, you may find yourself transported to a whole new world of inspiration. Apr 30, 2018 at 10:37
  • it doesn't matter what kind of music you like listening to- pick a favorite song, and you can find the chords online with a quick google search, and probably fingering as well. also, if you don't want to see a teacher, consider finding some more experience guitarists just to play with. this also might help with incentive.
    – kat
    Apr 30, 2018 at 14:57
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    I think you should find something you're passionate about. If that's not even music, that's OK. Hearing and playing music is so deeply emotional, if you don't have passion for it, your playing will always be technical but never spiritual. And if you don't enjoy it, practicing will feel like work.
    – scott
    Apr 30, 2018 at 17:57
  • So why aren't you learning all kinds of music from Celtic tunes to KISS? That's how I taught myself. Well I don't like KISS but my tastes are wide-ranging and I've learned a little bit of almost everything. May 1, 2018 at 14:36
  • I did, but once I learned how to play it I never had the wish to play them again nor listening to.
    – user44769
    May 1, 2018 at 18:23

5 Answers 5


I believe when you finally "discover" music that you really enjoy, you will develop a desire to learn to play that music and develop a passion for it.

But you will need to invest some time searching in order to "discover" the music that you will want to listen to and play.

You may stumble across something you like by randomly listening to a ton of music. But a more focused, guided approach may help you accomplish your objective much sooner than a random, haphazard approach.

I would encourage you to find time to go to YouTube and start by listening to videos of music that you know you kind of like. Then YouTube will suggest other videos that are similar. By sampling the suggestions you will hopefully find other music you like which will trigger more suggestions to sample. Keep repeating this process and favorite the vids you like best.

Also, streaming music sites (such as Spotify) will make suggestions for new music to sample based on what you indicate that you like. These services use sophisticated computer algorithms to analyze aspects of every song in order to match common attributes to similar songs. Most streaming sites offer free versions which integrate the new music suggestions described above.

These services will allow you to create custom playlist and they will also suggest playlists that mix in other music that their analytics software believes you may like. Besides using measurable and quantifiable characteristics of the music to render suggestions, their computer will also look at what other users (who like the music you favorite) also like.

By taking time to explore a great deal of new music in this way, you should eventually discover some music you really enjoy.

Then search YouTube for covers of some of the songs you like. You will often find a YouTuber whose arrangement of a selected song for solo guitar you particularly like. I get great ideas for unique and interesting ways to play particular songs by watching other musicians YouTube covers. You can spot the bad ones early in the vid so you don't waste time. The better ones usually have more views but there are some gems among the less viewed vids that just have not been discovered or promoted as much.

I believe the music you will love is out there. You just need to discover it through active, intentional, and focused exploratory listening. The more different music you listen to, the more you learn about what you like and even about music in general. Hopefully you will enjoy the process.

I am confident that when you do find the music you love, your passion for playing and learning new material on your instrument will stimulate a deeper appreciation for what music can offer - both as a listener and a performer. The newfound enjoyment for listening and playing music will enrich your life for as long as you choose to engage in playing or listening!

Good luck!


The first that comes to mind is find yourself a teacher. It's said often and it really will make a difference, especially with a good inspirational teacher.

Learning by oneself sometimes works, but in your case, doesn't seem too productive. A teacher will put you right on any 'bad' habits you may have, will give you goals and expectations, and inspire you to greater things.

May even encourage you to take some exams - which, for guitar, could be acoustic, classical, electric, or bass. All of which actually focus one to get a lot of new stuff under one's belt. Very few of my students didn't want to continue down the exam route after taking their first - but never as the only stuff done in lessons. And I didn't (have to) push them - students or exams!

Playing in isolation isn't that good for a lot of players, so finding other like-minded players is another good idea. Might even start a band. It won't be the first time it's happened!

  • Great suggestion. The right teacher will introduce the student to a variety of different styles of music. A bad teacher might stick strictly to published method books and contribute to boredom and disinterest. A friend and fellow songwriter who recently took up guitar found a great teacher who has introduced her to a wide variety of different styles of music and she finds the challenge of learning the suggested arrangements of the selected songs very stimulating. Learning a wide range of types of material has helped her with her songwriting as well. May 2, 2018 at 18:00

Check out yousician. This is an app or computer program that "listens" to you play. You can learn by tab or traditional notation and it will teach you either chords, or lead guitar (or both), and is sort of like a video game in that the better you play the more stars and points you get.

It may not be as good as a private teacher but it may give you a little incentive to get better. If you are not trying to learn a specific song or style it may be hard to stay motivated as you don't have a good goal, such as "I want to be able to play this song" or "I want to be able to play guitar like this person". At the very least this will give you a goal that is easily trackable such as "I want to finish this level with all gold stars".

You will find that as you get better at the "game" you will also become better at switching between chords as well as better at playing lead.

The downside is that it doesn't address the "but had no idea what I am actually playing" issue that you were having. To address that maybe try to learn some music theory.

All that being said I don't think you will ever really get hooked on guitar or music theory without being moved by music. Love of music is going to be the ultimate thing that gets you through the pain and frustration of learning to play the guitar. So this app may get you some of the things you want (learning for brain growth, and agility etc), but I think finding something that you love to listen to, even if it is one song, will help a ton. Find a song you love, and then set a goal of learning that song. Then find another. They don't have to be the same style.

edit: one note about the Yousician App: it is free to use for a limited amount of time per day. If you like it you can make it unlimited by paying for a subscription.

  • I'll sure check this app, sounds cool! I learned to play many songs I like, sometimes by ear only. However I noticed that after finishing learning a certain song (usually took me several days on average), exhausted from the process I neither listened nor played it anymore.
    – user44769
    Apr 30, 2018 at 15:07
  • @Riddle-Master i understand that feeling completely. Maybe try writing the songs you figure out down, and then after some time away from the process of figuring them out come back to them. this will give you a book of songs that you like AND that you can play. One note about the app: it is free, but limited by the amount of time you can use it per day. if you like it you can get unlimited paid version. i will update post to reflect that. have fun!
    – b3ko
    Apr 30, 2018 at 15:26

I'm going to suggest that finding and joining a band or bands, or music groups might be a better answer for you than starting with a teacher.

I came into music entirely self taught. While there were some musicians that inspired me to play certain instruments, I ended up playing with a number of different stylistic groups including Irish music and Folk dance bands that I wasn't particularly interested in initially, but led me to joining a large community that introduced me to many other styles of music.

There are often many opportunities to join a group, and being able to play basic chords along is usually enough to get started. Dance groups of all types are often always looking for more musicians.

Look for open sessions in traditional music like Old Time, Irish/Celtic, Swedish, any Traditional music really.

There is probably an International Folk Dance society near you, or you can use their online resources to find Dance groups in your area. You might become inspired by playing Russian or Greek dance music, or Middle Eastern music for Belly Dance, that you wouldn't have considered otherwise.

There are also music camps just about everywhere, some just for a weekend, some are weeks long. In many cases many different styles of music are represented. Usually there are workshops on the different styles, and open sessions to try the music out. You can also meet other musicians with whom you might want to start a playing group with.

Working with a group of musicians opens you up to different ideas that the other members have, and can introduce you to their knowledge and ideas about what music is all about, and inspire you in different directions than you would go just working by yourself.


You can try to play along a recorded song, or to solo along an instrumental backing track, it is fun and useful to learn. Also you can join a band.

  • 1
    It is unclear to me how the suggestion to play along with recordings will help the OP to learn what kind of music they want to play, given that the whole point of the question is that they don't know what kind of music they want to play, and even that they "listen to very little music nowadays." Is this answer really just suggesting that the OP try some stuff?
    – user39614
    May 8, 2018 at 0:02

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